Palestine envoy recalled after India's strong protest

The Palestinian envoy to India, Adnan Abu Al Haija said that Ali has been given a couple of days to pack and return from Islamabad. "We stand together with India in its fight against terrorism", Al Haija said.

The Palestine Authority has made a decision to recall its envoy from Islamabad in the face of India's strong protest over the presence of the Palestine ambassador to Pakistan in the company of Mumbai attack mastermind and global terrorist Hafiz Saeed in Rawalpindi.

Hours after the New Delhi government protested vociferously to Ramallah, Abu Ali was recalled from his post by the Palestinian Authority.

In a statement, the PA said, "On the basis of the principled and firm Palestinian position, the ministry of foreign affairs and expatriates considered the participation of our ambassador in Pakistan in a mass rally in solidarity with Jerusalem, held in Rawalpindi on Friday, and in the presence of individuals accused of supporting terrorism is an unintended mistake, but not justified". The Indian government said they had been assured by Palestine that they would not "engage with those who commit acts of terror against India".

Invitation to Walid Abu Ali came from Difa-e-Pakistan, where he had been the ambassador of Palestine for more than two years. "But still, we can not find this acceptable... and the Palestinian government has chose to take action", he said.

A statement in Arabic issued by the Palestinian foreign ministry said the envoy in Pakistan was recalled on the "direct instructions" of President Mahmoud Abbas.

"We take note of the assurances given by the Palestine side", the statement added.

Saeed, who was last month set free from a 300-day-long house arrest, has been repeatedly accused by the U.S. and India of masterminding the 2008 attacks on the Indian financial capital Mumbai that killed 166 people.

The rally featured several jihadi leaders, including Saifullah Khalid of the Milli Muslim League, a political party formed by Saeed, and Abdul Rehman Makki of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah (JuD) The event was attended by thousands, including members of the JuD. He did not know the terrorist Hafiz Saeed.

Pakistan has refused extradition requests from the United States for Saeed and allows him to operate relatively freely.

The Palestinian foreign ministry in its statement said Palestine "highly appreciates" the move by India to vote in favour of a resolution asking the U.S. to withdraw its decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital at the United Nations General Assembly. In fact, when Saeed spoke, he asked people around him who he was... and then the Ambassador gave his own speech and left the stage. Palestine, however, has consistently voted against India on the J&K issue- both in the United Nations and in OIC- for years, while criticising India's growing relationship with Israel.

Saeed's status has always been a thorn in the rocky relationship between Pakistan and India. In early December, he had met Pakistan's Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the Pakistan Army headquarters in Rawalpindi. He will no longer be Palestine ambassador to Pakistan.

  • Jon Douglas